cobrapost |
July 26, 2011


“Kya ghumana hai kaise ghumana hai bata doonga main (What has to be manipulated and how I will tell you all)”

“Returns main saare white mein kara deta hun (I will make all the returns white)”

Walking into this Central Delhi branch of ICICI Bank in the national capital, the Cobrapost reporter announces that he intends to make a handsome investment for a long term. The man behind the desk turns out to be Privilege Banker V. Srivastava who takes him a couple of minutes later to the privacy of a cabin. Posing as the relative of a politician, our reporter states the purpose of his visit: A minister wants to invest a ‘handsome’ amount in three names: the minister’s wife, the relative (our reporter), and the relative’s wife.

Srivastava asks: “Amount kitna hai? (What is the amount?).”

Rs. 1 crore, says the reporter, with more to come in March, about Rs. 8–10 crore. Most of it is in cash and we don’t want to show this investment in the books.

Srivastava is quick to read between the lines and asks: “Cash kitna denge … main sedhe aapse baat kar raha hun … cash mein kitna kar denge (How much cash will you give … I am talking to you straight … How much would you do in cash)?” As much as you are comfortable with, says the reporter. Why not start with Rs. 1 crore?

Srivastava asks again: “Teen logon ke naam pe ek crore hai na … dus saal tak de sakte hain ye log (One crore in the names of three persons … can they pay it for the next 10 years).” No problem. Why don’t we begin with Rs. 50 lakh?

Yes, we can do it in cash, replies Srivastava: “Haan wo kar sakte hain … koi dikkat nahin … wo humari headache hai … matlab hota nahin hai is cheez ka (Yes, we can do it … there is no problem … that is our headache … although this thing doesn’t happen).”

Please be discreet and don’t involve others, cautions the reporter, as a political personality is involved. Don’t worry, says Srivastava: “Haan, haan … main samajh raha hun (Yes, yes. I understand it).” He adds: “Aap dikhiye yahan pe na accounts mein jab yahan pe hai aaya hun main yahan pe doosra dhekiye kya hai main business ka dekhta rehta hun main… to wo sab tension mat lijiye aap … kya ghumana hai kaise ghumana hai bata doonga main (You see I have been looking after such accounts since I came here and the other thing is I also look after business … so take all tension off your head … what has to be manipulated and how it has to be manipulated I will tell you all).”

Where is your account, asks Srivastava? We don’t have one with you, we would love to open one, says the reporter. Srivastava then begins educating the client on various aspects of investment. The reporter says that, of course, they want good returns but the main purpose is to make the money white. “Returns main saare white mein kar deta hun (I will make all the returns white).”

Srivastava suggests going in for a diversified portfolio, some in fixed deposits, some in mutual funds, both short term and long term, but the returns will be tax-free. Do whatever you like, says the reporter, but we don’t want to show it in the books. Srivastava continues: “Main aapka yahan se mutual fund mein pick kar loonga jo bhi aap bolenge amount do crore dhai crore jaisa bhi monthly ka lakh lakh rupaya (I will pick up from here whatever amount you tell in mutual fund, Rs. 2 crore, Rs. 2.5 crore whatever … like monthly 1 lakh).”

Would the returns from short-term investments come in white? Srivastava explains: “White hoke wapas chala aaya (It comes back after becoming white).” These returns will be routed back into investment.

What is the method – routing the money through the account, asks the reporter, or putting in the cash directly?

Here, Srivastava grins broadly: “Iske liye humare paas alag alag type ke account hote hain. Ek humare paas rickshewala account hota hai … amount daalte hain paisa nikaalte hain. Ek humare paas hota hai private banking wala account hota hai usmein kya hota hai naa jab hum poori amount enter karte hain to seedhe employee code mera likh ke aata hai … mera employee code … amount show nahin karega uska kuch bhi (We have different types of accounts for this. We have one rickshaw-wala account … put in the amount and take out the cash. We have one account for private banking. What happens in that account is that whenever we enter the entire amount, my employee code appears … it will not show any amount whatever).”

How will my account be accessed then, asks the reporter.
“Aapka account number mil gaya xyz job bhi mile theek hai … hummein koi access bhi karna chahta hai toh seedhe account number daalega yahan pe ye xyz aur agar balance dekhna chahega to balance nahin dekh payega show nahin hoga … mera employee code aa jayega … aapko is aacount ke baare mein koi information chahiye to mere se baat kariye (Suppose, you get an account number xyz … all right… if someone from amongst us wants to access the account he will put in the account number xyz here and if he wants to see the balance he will not be able to see the balance … it will not show up … my employee code will show up and if you want any information on this particular account you can talk to me).”

Who are those customers and how many crores have they put in, asks our reporter.
This privilege is bestowed only on customers with deep pockets. “Ye jo Private Banking customers hote hain na unke liye sirf facility hai … unke account mein dhai–dhai crore … paanch paanch tak (This facility is available only to Private Banking customers … they keep Rs. 2.5 crore–5.0 crore in their accounts).”

Srivastava suggests opening a private banking account given that it is cash. “Cash hi karenge kya? Toh fir to wo aapka jo private banking hai na usi se karna better rahega (Will you do it in cash only? Then, it will be better if we do it through Private Banking).”

Asked if he could come to the residence in the evening to sort out all the details, Srivastava agrees.

All you are telling me is reassuring indeed but did any of your customers have any problem three–four years later? Srivastava is emphatic: “Koi dikkat nahin ayegi … mere paas koi cheque nahin aaya hai nahin to dikhata aapko … kal … Shanivaar ko aya tha (There will be no problem … I have not received a cheque today, otherwise I would have shown it to you … yesterday … we had received one on Saturday).” He then starts to extract the information from his mobile.
Srivastava is a senior banker and has been working in this branch for the past 5–7 years. There is no reason to doubt what he claims. Presumbly, he has many such clients? “Haan clients wo kaafi saare hain arre aapka ye account bhi hai ek do politician account se related wo bhi dekhta rehta hun main … hain kuch achchhe jigar wale (Yes, there are many clients. Then, there are one or two accounts related to politicians. I look after them as well. Yes, there are some gutsy clients with us).”

He asks his subordinate to bring the vouchers logged in on Saturday, and a private banking cheque received on that day. Meanwhile, he and the reporter exchange phone numbers and promise to meet in the evening to carry the deal forward at the client’s residence.
A voucher his brought to his table and Srivastava explains: “Private Banking mein le ke aata hai customer … balance kuchh nahin dikhaya jaata account se seedhe paas … cheque clear (A customer brings it in Private Banking … balance is never shown … the cheque is straightaway passed, gets cleared).” He then goes on to tell how it can be checked if the cheque is genuine with the help of a drop of water. If the cheque is original, once water is applied it discolours the paper.

Do what is safest for us, urges the reporter. Srivastava: “Safest dikha hi diya maine aapke saamne. Isse zyada kya dikhaoon main (I have shown you the safest. What more should I show you)?”

The reporter expresses appreciation for such a secretive method. Srivastava nods in return and says: “Aise logon ke liye aisa account rakha gaya hai humare paas (We have kept such an account for such customers).”

The discussion moves on to investments again. Srivastava suggests his client should invest in mutual funds and a pension plan given that a diversified portfolio is best.

Since we can invest only in cash, Srivastava has a way to beat the system. He says: “Gramin bank wagaireh mein IT wagaireh dhyan nahin deti actually … main baat yehi hai … kuch cash wagaireh kar karake na karwa denge … aap koi tension mat lijiye (IT Department doesn’t pay any attention toward Gramin banks … this is the main point … I will get it done by paying some cash … don’t take any tension).”

In his eagerness to please the client, Srivastava agrees to come to the residence of the minister in the evening, and even promises to send a van to pick up the cash, if required, the next morning. “Agar bolenge aap cash ka to gaari to hai humare paas wo pick kar lenge (If you say to pick up the cash, we have a vehicle. We will pick).” Counting will also be done with a counting machine by the bank.

Would he provide a locker big enough to keep the Rs. 8–10 crore cash the minister is expecting in the first week of March? “Mil jayega main dilwa doonga (I will get it for you).” Two lockers will be made available to keep this cash. Every need of the customer will be taken good care of, he coos.

So, what you suggested is the safest investment to covert the money into white, asks the reporter? Replies Srivastava: “Haan, cash mein saara kar denge na (Yes, we will do it all in cash).”

Tell me if any of your customers had to face problems later, asks the reporter? Srivastava replies: “Aap pareshan mat hoiye kahin kuch nahin ayega (You don’t worry, nothing of that sort will come).”

He continues: “Kaam to kuch 50 per cent white mein kiya kuch black mein karaya apna kaam ghuma denge wo … Dekhiye sir, sab bank se ghoomta hai … kaise ghumana hai aap tension mat lijiye. Wo meri headache hai (The work will be done like 50 per cent will be done in white, some in black. Look Sir, everything is manipulated by the bank. You don’t take any tension how it will be manipulated. That is my headache).”

Why don’t you come to the residence of the minister along with your boss? Srivastava agrees to bring his cluster head Gulshan along.

Tell me if you have more politicians among your customers? Here Srivastava turns coy.
The discussion again comes back to doing it through an account. Open an account, says the reporter, with your bank. But it is better still if it is possible through some dummy accounts so that the money is converted into white as soon as possible. Never mind the expenses. We will pay.

Srivastava puts his thinking cap on and says: “Theek hai ghumate hain … ghoomega idhar se hi ghoomega (All right, I will manipulate. It will be manipulated from here only).”
Oh, one more thing. The minister’s wife often goes to England. She wants to transfer some of the Rs. 8–10 crores that we will keep in your locker to England. It cannot be done through accounts or we will have problems. Can he suggest some ways other than the legal channels, something like hawala? We will bear whatever the expenses are.

“Theek hai wo karwa denge … wo mujhe kuch karna padega (All right, I will get it done … I will have to do something about it).”

With a promise to meet again in the evening to clinch the deal at the politician’s residence, the meeting ends.

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